Hundreds of Calgarians rally against hate, racism and discrimination during weekend protest

Article content

Passionate calls for change roared from loudspeakers in downtown Calgary on Saturday morning as hundreds gathered to rally against hate, racism and discrimination.

The “Building Bridges Against Racism” solidarity march was mobilized by advocacy organization Act2EndRacism and numerous community organizations in response to a surge in hateful, and sometimes violent, incidents targeting racialized locals.

“Today, we have come out because we believe that racism has no place in our city or our society. We are here to build bridges between communities, between our beliefs, between our shared experiences,” said speaker Sonia Aujla-Bhullar, who co-chairs the city’s anti-racism action committee.

“This is not an easy task, because bridges are built across distances and reach a destination that is close but still out of reach. In the case of racism, the bridge is even more pronounced because we are crossing borders that have been imposed on our way of life as racialized folks and impacted our human dignity and right to respect.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Hundreds came out to support the Antiracism solidarity March in Calgary on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
Hundreds came out to support the Antiracism solidarity March in Calgary on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photo by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

The peaceful protest drew attention to escalating harassment and violence against Asian Calgarians during the COVID-19 pandemic and brazen assaults of Muslim females that have taken place recently, while highlighting continued anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.

Last Sunday, a Calgary girl was violently assaulted in Prince’s Island Park in broad daylight. A 28-year-old woman, who has since been charged with assault, punched the victim, berated her with racial slurs and ripped her hijab in the random attack.

Edmonton police are investigating six hate-motivated incidents against Black Muslim women since December. These attacks have similarly taken place in public spaces during the day.

“It’s been going on for a long time,” said local activist Saima Jamal, who co-founded the Calgary Immigrant Support Society.

“What’s new now is the level of violence the attacks carry. Previously it was racial slurs, degrading language or they might spit, but now it is a full-blown assault where they are tearing your hijab off, throwing you to the ground and beating you up. Our women need to feel safe in our streets.”

Many speakers, from ranging cultural and ethnic backgrounds, shared intimate stories of racism and spoke about systemic discrimination in health care, policing, the workplace and justice system — to name a few.

Hundreds came out to support the Antiracism solidarity March in Calgary on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
Hundreds came out to support the Antiracism solidarity March in Calgary on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photo by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

Speaker Adanech Sahilie, who founded the Immigrant Outreach Society, said she had one key message for attendees: silence on racism is complicity.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“There is no middle ground for this journey,” she said to the crowd.

“You don’t have to feel what we feel to act to end racism. You don’t have to experience what we are experiencing every single day to act to end racism.”

Sahilie also had a message for politicians.

“We are tired of hearing you saying you believe in inclusion, in diversity,” she said.

“We need action. It’s time to see action.”

Organizers of the weekend rally highlighted a list of demands for government officials at the local and provincial levels. They included banning hate symbols, lowering the threshold for the definition of hate crimes, removing barriers to reporting hate crimes, supporting victims and collecting race-based data.

Calgarians held signs that said “show racism it has no place here,” “Black Muslim Women Matter” and “we must all unite.” The large group marched from the Peace Bridge, down Memorial Drive, to Calgary’s Chinese Cultural Centre, where a large mural nearby celebrates Black history in Alberta.

Shortly after, another protest took place at the nearby Reconciliation Bridge.

Hundreds came out to support the Water NOT Coal : Solidarity Walk with Niitsitapi Water Protectors in Calgary on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
Hundreds came out to support the Water NOT Coal : Solidarity Walk with Niitsitapi Water Protectors in Calgary on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photo by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

The “Water NOT Coal” solidarity walk with Niitsitapi Water Protectors (NWP) drew attention to the fight for clean drinking water, Indigenous rights and land protection.

Hundreds showed up to rally against provincial coal-mining on the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains, after months of controversy related to the government’s handling of the file.

“The government of Alberta in partnership with foreign-owned mining companies, are pushing forward numerous open-pit metallurgical coal development projects in (southwest) Alberta,” said NWP in a statement.

“Coal development will not only impact water quality but will affect water security in Southern Alberta. Open pit coal mining will degrade the environment and its life-sustaining gift of clear and clean water.”

Hundreds came out to support the Water NOT Coal: Solidarity Walk with Niitsitapi Water Protectors in Calgary on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
Hundreds came out to support the Water NOT Coal: Solidarity Walk with Niitsitapi Water Protectors in Calgary on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photo by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

alsmith@postmedia.com

Twitter: @alanna_smithh

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

View Source